Monthly Archives: July 2019

1 Aug, Thursday – Discipline, Time & Sacrifice

Aug 1 – Memorial for St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop, religious founder, doctor

Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) vowed early to never to waste a moment of his life, and lived that way for over 90 years. As a lawyer, he had his own practice by age 21, and was a leading lawyer in Naples. He never attended court without having attended Mass first.

As he matured and learned more of the world, he liked it less, and finally felt a call to religious life. He was ordained at age 29. As preacher and home missioner around Naples, St. Alphonsus was noted for his simple, clear, direct style of preaching, and his gentle, understanding way in the confessional. He was often opposed by Church officials for a perceived laxity toward sinners, and by government officials who opposed anything religious. He founded the Redemptoristines women’s order and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists).

As bishop, St. Alphonsus worked to reform the clergy and revitalise the faithful in a diocese with a bad reputation. The royal government threatened to disband his Redemptorists, claiming that they were covertly carrying on the work of the Jesuits, who had been suppressed. Calling on his knowledge of the Congregation, his background in theology, and his skills as a lawyer, St. Alphonsus defended the Redemptorists so well that they obtained the king’s approval.

– Patron Saint Index

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Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38

Moses did exactly as the Lord had directed him. The tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. Moses erected the tabernacle. He fixed the sockets for it, put up its frames, put its crossbars in position, set up its posts. He spread the tent over the tabernacle and on top of this the covering for the tent, as the Lord had directed Moses. He took the Testimony and placed it inside the ark. He set the shafts to the ark and placed the throne of mercy on it. He brought the ark into the tabernacle and put the screening veil in place; thus he screened the ark of the Lord, as the Lord had directed Moses.

The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because of the cloud that rested on it and because of the glory of the Lord that filled the tabernacle.

At every stage of their journey, whenever the cloud rose from the tabernacle the sons of Israel would resume their march. If the cloud did not rise, they waited and would not march until it did. For the cloud of the Lord rested on the tabernacle by day, and a fire shone within the cloud by night, for all the House of Israel to see. And so it was for every stage of their journey.

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Matthew 13:47-53

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

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Every stage of their journey

There is a single characteristic that I believe creates success. In my opinion, it is one of the most important characteristics that can be applied in various situations and circumstances, even more so when it comes to our faith journey. If you are still trying to guess, no, it is not love, it is not honesty, neither is it about patience. It is all about being consistent, because it defines the focus to be able to keep delivering the same expectations people have about you. Of course, we always have to improve and make greater impressions, however, having consistency draws the attention and evokes trust in others that you will always be there.

Ever since the beginning of man, God has always been there for us. He watches over us at every era of time. Through both the New and Old testaments, the Lord showed unto us consistency of love and assurance, fulfilling what was said in the Old Testament and continues to promise to us the salvation through His Son, Jesus. Consistency requires discipline, time and, most of all, it requires sacrifice. Consistency is about keeping true to your word that something is to be delivered; not just for today, not just for the coming weeks, not just for months but what is ahead into the future, because you believe it will last forever; you believe someone depends on you. When one feels that starting up is the hardest thing to do, be assured this will be over once you get into the habit of it. But to maintain and keep it ongoing for its survival requires consistent management and attention.

Let us look into what remains consistent in our daily lives. We are punctual in getting our three main meals. We probably set aside our time to exercise three times a week; we consistently post a photo on Instagram every two days. I would guess we go for mass at least once a week. Do we spend enough time with the Lord? Do we consistently spend time and energy with the unfortunate? Have we built a community with those who need our help? Have we made the right choices as to what we hold true and consistent?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, we pray to be successful neighbours, that we are consistent in giving back to the society in Jesus name.

Thanksgiving: May I be blessed with the spirit of giving, and be grateful for all who has come to aid me when I am in need.

31 July, Wednesday – In our nothingness, God becomes everything

Jul 31 – Memorial for St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

St. Ignatius (1491-1556) was wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna on 20 May 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life. During his recuperation, the only books he had access to were The Golden Legend, a collection of lives of the saints, and the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him.

On his recovery, he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned a pilgrim’s robes. He lived in a cave for a year, contemplating the way to live a Christian life. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Exodus 34:29-35
When Moses came down from the mountain of Sinai – as he came down from the mountain, Moses had the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands – he did not know that the skin on his face was radiant after speaking with the Lord. And when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, the skin on his face shone so much that they would not venture near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron with all the leaders of the community came back to him; and he spoke to them. Then all the sons of Israel came closer, and he passed on to them all the orders that the Lord had given him on the mountain of Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever he went into the Lord’s presence to speak with him, Moses would remove the veil until he came out again. And when he came out, he would tell the sons of Israel what he had been ordered to pass on to them, and the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord.

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Matthew 13:44-46

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’

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treasure hidden in a field

Some of you may be familiar with this much-loved tune, ‘Colors of the Wind’, from Pocahontas – a classic, Disney-animated movie. In that song, there is a phrase I especially adore which goes like this; “ … how high can a sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you’ll never know! ”.

In more recent times, I have grown to truly appreciate this movie for the poignancy of the message it brings – that our world today has long forgotten what it means to value people and things for what they are and not for what value they can bring and create. The ‘value’ can be in terms of both economic as well as what it can bring to our prestige, our pleasure, our power. It speaks to me, of an ear when man has become separated from his Creator and from what he is created to BE and not what he can be used for. It tells of the powerful truth that man has forgotten who God really is. That, very often in our own lives, we have forgotten who God really is. We have often heard the phrase that we cannot contain the immensity of God within the puny confines of our human intellect or emotions. I say, we have reduced God to even just a mere fraction of that. He has become really miniscule in the reality of the world we live and operate in — powerless, distant, indifferent, there for the mere purpose of serving our needs. Nothing more, nothing less.

And yet, our God seems to take particular pleasure when He gets to remind humanity just exactly who He is. His best work is done when He is busy turning this world upside down. Just when we think we finally have Him subjugated to our wills, He reminds us exactly who He is. And in salvation history, He has sent us so many reminders about exactly how His ways are, as far from us as East is to the West. He reminds us, in no uncertain terms, just who God is. And that He is very much alive and kicking, and calling the shots.

Consider these  …

  • The mustard seed of faith that is capable of moving the Himalayan Mountains;
  • The tiniest seed that grows into the tallest, strongest Sycamore tree;
  • The yeast that causes the flat dough of our lives to grow to become bread that sustains life;
  • The widow’s 2 coins that become the priceless offering in heaven’s treasury of graces;
  • The rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone upon which the foundations of our faith become unshakeable;
  • The David that brings Goliath to his knees with one, tiny little pebble;
  • The one lost sheep for which the Shepherd is prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice of His own life to find;
  • The great feast you make possible for your needy and hungry children from just 2 fishes and 5 loaves

Conventional wisdom looks down upon these. But yes, God has this habit of taking the weakest, smallest, poorest, most rejected, most unworthy, most unintelligent, most helpless and turning the world upside down with the values of the kingdom and the results of what these can become when left in the hands of the Creator. True wisdom, God’s wisdom, prevails. As it always does.

And why does He do this? To remind us that He is God. Not us. Him. That He rules sovereign over all created things of heaven and of earth. And that by His grace, and that alone, the smallest, weakest, poorest, broken and least worthy becomes almighty. Because when nothingness encounters God, then there is only God left. That He is the God of the impossible. And that He is Almighty.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us to grasp the truth of the infinite love of God for us and to abandon our self to Your will, with the confidence of a child in his loving Father who looks after His own with the utmost care. Set us free from the worries and concerns of what the future may bring so as to be able to fully experience the joy of returning God’s love.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for lifting us beyond the limitations of our human frailty, for believing in us so much more than we do in ourselves, and allowing us to become all that you have created us to be.

30 Jul, Tuesday – The Motherly Love of God

Jul 30 – Memorial for St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop & Doctor

An adult convert, St. Peter (406-450) fought paganism and heresy, enforced reforms, and built several churches and ornate altars in his see. A preacher with outstanding language skills, he was given the name ‘Chrysologus’, referring to his ‘golden word’. 176 of his sermons have survived; it is the strength of these beautiful explanations of the Incarnation, the Creed, the place of Mary and John the Baptist in the great plan of salvation, etc., that led to his being proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1729.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Exodus 33:7-11, 34:5-9, 28

Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who had to consult the Lord would go out to the Tent of Meeting, outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise. Every man would stand at the door of his tent and watch Moses until he reached the Tent; the pillar of cloud would come down and station itself at the entrance to the Tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. When they saw the pillar of cloud stationed at the entrance to the Tent, all the people would rise and bow low, each at the door of his tent. The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would turn back to the camp, but the young man who was his servant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the Tent.

And the Lord descended in the form of a cloud, and Moses stood with him there.

He called on the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness; for thousands he maintains his kindness, forgives faults, transgression, sin; yet he lets nothing go unchecked, punishing the father’s fault in the sons and in the grandsons to the third and fourth generation.’ And Moses bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped. ‘If I have indeed won your favour, Lord,’ he said ‘let my Lord come with us, I beg. True, they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins, and adopt us as your heritage.’

Moses stayed there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing. He inscribed on the tablets the words of the Covenant – the Ten Words.

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Matthew 13:36-43

Leaving the crowds, Jesus went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

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as one speaks to a friend

Consider for a moment the first reading. Did you notice the presence of God? It is ‘unmissable’ (pardon my blatant disregard for good grammar) – the pillar of cloud. It is mind-boggling that day in and day out, the people of Israel had God literally living in a tent in their midst, visible for all to see. And on top of that, God spoke as one would speak to a friend.

Fast forward a few millennia. Most, if not all of us, have struggled to sense God’s presence at one point in our lives — how we yearn to hear Him when we are in desperate need of direction, of hope, of faith. How we long to see him when our world suddenly turns upside down with pain, insecurity, betrayal, hopelessness, terror. Where then is the pillar of cloud, the presence of God in our lives? Has it dissipated into thin air? Has our faith dissipated into thin air? Was it ever really there in the first place?

Allow me to point to the fidelity of God in our lives, through the person of His mother – the first and only perfect disciple of the Holy Trinity.

I spend a fair bit of time sitting in prayer and refection, at the open-air courtyard at Nativity Church, in front of the life-sized statue of our Lady of Grace. And as I sit there, many of her children come by each day to pray to her. Two have left a deep impression on me, on how real God and our Blessed Mother’s love has been for them. I make a caveat though — these are entirely what I see and the judgments I make on my part about them — not necessarily grounded in truth, but I believe in my heart, from my observations and reflections about them, that they are deeply grounded in faith and filled with grace from God.

The first is that of a young father with his son. The father looks like a typical ‘Ah Beng’ (local slang for gangster) – with a full body tattoo from head to toe. He struck me as one who perhaps lived a dangerous life, a reckless life. Beside him was his young son. They were kneeling in front of our Blessed Mother – the father patiently and lovingly teaching his son to pray the Rosary. It was really an odd picture – something unexpected but powerful, in the sense of surprise it gave me. It made me reflect deeply. And as I reflected, I asked myself – did something happen to help him turn over a new leaf? How was his life touched by God and our Mother which has led him to now want to build strong roots of faith in his son? Was he saved from tragedy? Or from a life which would have been perilous to his family?

The second is that of a grandmother wheeling a boy on a wheelchair to the feet of Mother Mary. The boy appeared to be suffering from severe muscular dystrophy and his body was severely contorted and deformed, his head twisted to almost right angles to his shoulder. He also appeared mentally retarded and was not able to relate normally to the grandmother’s words. The grandmother however, was the picture of perfect love, fidelity, patience, support and compassion for the boy. She was joyful, smiling and showered the boy with immense love. Her love for her grandson was self-sacrificial – his life, dignity, comfort, self-worth and well-being was all that mattered. It was a cross she knew she would need to carry for the rest of her life. But she was able to embrace that cross. With amazing joy, with amazing love.

Stares did not bother them, tragedy did not lead them to despair, darkness did not overwhelm the flicker of faith in their eyes, which were not fixed on what the world thought of them, nor their condition, nor those they loved. No,– their eyes were fixed on the saving love of their God and the unfailing love of the Mother of their God. Through the painful curve balls thrown at them by life, the learnt that they had a God whose love, care and fidelity is constant, unchanging and unchangeable. These were blessed, not by the circumstances of their lives which was fraught with suffering, but in knowing that they could no longer help themselves. They were blessed with faith which helped them know, with great certainty, that their God was very present, very real, very faithful.  A God which spoke to them in their lives, as one spoke to a friend. For these blessed ones, the pillar of cloud, which is their Almighty God, continues to be their protector, their provider, their refuge, their salvation.

In both instances, I asked myself what exactly did they have to go through in life that allows their spirit to remain so strong, their faith and fidelity and hope in God and our Blessed Mother to remain so steadfast and unwavering? What grace was it that gives them such victory despite such heavy defeats in life? My only conclusion — the only one that could make any sense whatsoever to me — Amazing Grace, Amazing Love, Amazing God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. When our lives are so filled with pain, with fear, with angst and you seem silent and very far away, we lose our way and our courage and our hope. Bring us back, by your saving love and amazing grace to that place where you remind us that you have never left us and for us to then know we will always have a Father who is also a friend, who walks every step of life with us.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for all the times you stayed by our side when we had long abandoned you. For never giving up on us. For remaining true to us and being our friend, no matter what. Thank you for Our Mother, through whose loving arms and tender heart, you let us know the gentleness and depth with which you embrace us.

29 July, Monday – A developing faith

Jul 29 – Memorial for St. Martha

Jesus liked to stay at the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany, when he was in Judaea. One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory. On that occasion, Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him.

After His Ascension, she was seized by the Jews, together with many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles. Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the people of Marseilles by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew with several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence.

http://www.catholicculture.org/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2006-07-29

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1 John 4:7-16

My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
My dear people,
since God has loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us
and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him
and he is living in us
because he lets us share his Spirit.
We ourselves saw and we testify
that the Father sent his Son
as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in him, and he in God.
We ourselves have known and put our faith in
God’s love towards ourselves.
God is love
and anyone who lives in love lives in God,
and God lives in him.

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John 11:19-27

Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said:

‘I am the resurrection and the life.
If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?’

‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’

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Do you believe this?

This is the third year that I have not had a full-time job, and the additional time available has allowed me to read up a lot more about the faith than before. In the absence of exhausting work demands, I finally have the mental resources to appreciate and really learn the Church’s teachings and theology. It has been extremely enriching, enlightening and transformative. To my surprise, I have found that the more knowledge I gain, the more I realise I do not know. Truly, there is always so much room for one’s faith to develop.

Today is the memorial of Saint Martha of Bethany, one of a few people in the gospels who were privileged to have a close friendship with Jesus. Her personality is clearly contrasted with that of her sister’s – she is always on the move while Mary is much less action-oriented. Jesus’ message to her when he visited their home was about the importance of spending time in quiet prayer and contemplation, something that cannot be achieved when one is perpetually busy.

Although Martha seems to tend towards action rather than contemplation, it doesn’t mean that her faith is weak. She goes out to meet Jesus after her brother Lazarus died, and confidently makes a strong proclamation of faith in her Lord. Perhaps she had taken Jesus’ earlier words to heart.  However, although she is certain that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus was around, she still questioned Jesus’ command to open the tomb. That is a very natural thing to say, and very reflective of Martha’s nature. Opening the tomb would surely traumatise everyone present. Jesus gives her another message. This time, to trust him wholeheartedly. His very act of bringing Lazarus back to life would surely bring Martha’s faith to a whole new level.

I encourage all readers to take more active steps to study the faith. The more we know about Jesus, the better we are able to stay attuned to his message for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

Prayer: Dearest Father, we pray for a stronger faith in you and in your church. May we be open to the promptings of your Spirit, so that we may prioritise prayer and faithful study of your Word.

Thanksgiving: We thank you, God of infinite love and mercy, for blessing us with your grace. 

28 July, Sunday – Focus on virtue and not just on sin

28 July 2019

Our Father in Heaven

Christ has given us in very truth the power to become the children of God. Compare the timidity and self-abnegation of Abraham’s prayer with the confidence with which Christ teaches us to pray to our Father in heaven.

– Sunday Missal

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Genesis 18:20-32

The Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’

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Colossians 2:12-14

You have been buried with Christ, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.

He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.

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Luke 11:1-13

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’

He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:

‘“Father, may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.

And do not put us to the test.”’

He also said to them:

‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

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for the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it

A youtube video I once watched began with a boy slumped on the floor. He did not look to be in a happy state. To make things worse, a large stone suddenly struck him on the head and he started to bleed. The boy jumped up, screaming and shouting at someone whose back was turned towards him, arms outstretched, blocking out other projectiles hurling towards the boy. The boy accused him of doing a bad job of protecting him from getting hurt. “How could you let this happen to me? You must be sleeping on the job!!”

The video then went on to show that person, turning sheepishly to the boy and apologizing for letting that one stone slip through and hurting the boy. Upon closer examination, I realized that the person himself was bleeding profusely from all sorts of cuts and bruises from the myriad of stones and other flying objects that kept hitting him as he used his own body as a human shield for the boy. Then came the clincher — the human shield was Jesus. And he was sorry to the boy for not doing a ‘good enough’ job because that one stone slipped through him.

Not possible? God does not make mistakes? He is perfect after all, isn’t He? And why on earth would Jesus apologize to the boy? Are we forgetting who the creator and who the creature is here? Instead, the boy should count his blessings that Jesus himself was protecting him from all the many other projectiles that did not reach the boy. We need to ponder on how often we have been that little boy.

I would like to focus my reflection on the first reading where Abraham bargained, it seemed, with God, to spare Sodom on the count of the handful of good and faithful people found there. Abraham was certainly shrewd in his handling of the Lord; he played to the mercy and compassion of God instead of His wrath. He played to the goodness of God that would sooner look on the goodness of His children than their evil. Abraham played on the one weakness God had – His incomprehensible love for His children, which makes Him appear even weak and foolish, by giving in so much to the ungratefulness and indifference of his spoilt children.

Yet, it was once said that conversion comes not from the judgment of God, but from His mercy. That for those touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit to true repentance, deep and true conversion swiftly follows a heart grateful to have experienced the compassion, understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love of a loving Father. This is the love of a Father God that has chosen to look upon the goodness and virtues of His children, even if these exist only in the most miniscule iota of a speck in that person, than on their all-too-obvious faults and failings. It is this deep, incomprehensible love and compassion of God that the second reading points to — that which has removed and nailed our transgressions to the Cross. It is this incomprehensible love that Our Lord’s prayer calls us to follow as we learn to forgive the transgressions of others against us, as we ourselves are forgiven by our own Father.

You see, God does not look at what we truly deserve, but what He truly wants to make deserving of us as His sons and daughters. I’ve said this before in earlier sharings – our focus must NEVER be on ourselves. It must ALWAYS be upon God.

Let me end with one more twist — that it is not we who ask, seek and knock but in truth, the Father who asks, seeks and knocks on the doors of our hearts. That it is He that is the one showing great patience, persistence and hope that one day we will finally come to our senses and realize that although we really have absolutely nothing to give to God, God is waiting to give everything to us. That God helps those who help themselves is a fallacy – this phrase does not exist in the Bible. But if you can allow me to cite a wisdom once said by Fr Erbin Fernandez, “God helps those who finally realize that they can no longer help themselves”.

To finally open that door, to see that our Father is at our door – waiting to embrace us once again. That He has always been there — waiting for us to finally come to our senses.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. We have forgotten your love for us — that you are our creator. That you are the one who has loved us since before the beginning of time. That we are your own.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for never abandoning us despite our great unworthiness and incomprehensible ingratitude towards you. Help us to grasp the truth of the infinite love you have for us and to experience your love with the confidence of a child in his loving Father, who looks after His own with the utmost care. And to then be able to fully experience the joy of returning your love to you.

27 July, Saturday – Adversity Is Proportional To Your Destiny

27 July 2019

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Exodus 24:3-8

Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’

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Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus put another parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’

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We will obey 

How does one obey when all around them, things are falling apart – a marriage, a sudden death, a business venture gone bust – how does someone who is desperate, ignore the temptations of a quick-fix solution such as ill-gotten cash, or redemption at the expense of innocent people? Many of us have been there before and wherever you are now, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, how do you think you made it through the turbulent times?

For me, it was a case of adversity being proportionate to my destiny. Because during one of the most turbulent times in my life, this writing ministry became my stabilising force. And because I chose to obey the call of the Holy Spirit (which I wasn’t even aware of back then), I am where I am today in my life. This, I believe, has always been God’s plan for me – to use my talents and gifts to help proclaim His word to as many as possible.

At the recent Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Pastor John Gray preached these words, that we can never run away from adversity in our lives. We just need to trust that God has a divine plan for us and that He will reveal what that plan is as long as we trust in Him and let His spirit work within us. Pastor Carl Lentz also exhorted that because we have chosen to be Christians, it is inevitable that the Spirit lives within us. We just need to wake up and work with Him in order to fulfil our promise.

Brothers and sisters, how many of us can truly and actually say that we live in full obedience of His commandments and as true disciples of our Creator? Yup, I thought so. Most of us are ‘shy’ to admit it but the key is not to be afraid to own up to our weaknesses and openly raise our hands in surrender. Because it is in the humbling of ourselves that He can come and fill us. In order for Him to increase in our lives, we must decrease. We must shed our pride, declutter our material wants/needs/pleasures, reach out to our neighbours in need and offer a loving hand, or just simply give way – on the road, in the mall, at the park, in the elevator, or in the coffee queue.

Try it in your church compound tomorrow and see how it feels. There is no shame in giving way, because Jesus stooped low to wash the feet of his disciples. Jesus, in His ultimate expression of love for us, allowed himself he indignity of death on the cross for you and me.

What can you and I ‘give up’ today as a sign of His presence in our hearts?

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Abba Father, you care for us as your sons and daughters because you love us so much. Be with us in our times of need and fill us with your presence when we are weak.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being our Saviour and Redeemer.

26 July, Friday – Don’t Give The Enemy A Seat At Your Table

Jul 26 – Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary

By tradition, Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary’s father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. It was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God’s request with faith, “Let it be done to me as you will.” It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. Such parents can be examples and models for all parents.

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=22

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Exodus 20:1-17

God spoke all these words. He said, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

‘You shall have no gods except me.

‘You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God and I punish the father’s fault in the sons, the grandsons, and the great-grandsons of those who hate me; but I show kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

‘You shall not utter the name of the Lord your God to misuse it, for the Lord will not leave unpunished the man who utters his name to misuse it.

‘Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath for the Lord your God. You shall do no work that day, neither you nor your son nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals nor the stranger who lives with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that these hold, but on the seventh day he rested; that is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it sacred.

‘Honour your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God has given to you.

‘You shall not kill.

‘You shall not commit adultery.

‘You shall not steal.

‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.’

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Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’

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You shall not… 

Today, we celebrate the feast of the parents of our blessed Mother. I have often wondered how obedient she would have been as a child, especially since she was destined to become the mother of our Lord. I’m pretty sure St Joachim and St Anne would have had an easy time raising the young Mary, who epitomises obedience. Not being a parent myself, I look around at my friends who have multiple children and marvel at their energy, stamina and, most of all, their self-sacrificing love for their offspring (no matter how disobedient they become).

I reckon many of my vintage were brought up with quite strict parents – disciplinarians who had low tolerance for anything ‘out of the norm’. I recall many occasions when I was forced to practice my violin late in the night (and miss ‘Six Million Dollar Man’, ‘CHiPS’ or ‘Spencer For Hire’) because I had lied to my parents or decided to ‘play truant’ from my violin practice. I remember even coming up with crazy excuses (being held back in school etc) to skip piano lessons so that I could cycle freely within our huge estate for an hour. Of course, the best-laid plans always get unravelled whenever a well-meaning teacher phones up our parents to ‘check on us’ (imagine if we had mobile phones back then!).

Brothers and sisters, our God loves us too much to be such a disciplinarian. In fact, He lets us do what we choose to do because He already knows how things are going to pan out, good or bad. So even when we sin (yes, WHEN!), He is ever ready to bring us back into the fold, as long as we are sincere in our contrition. The first reading and the parable of the sower paint two different paths to salvation that reflect the spirit of the times. Just as how parents these days have to be tolerant and more understanding of their children and the pressures they face, Jesus came to offer us salvation through Him, knowing that this new generation of believers would close their ears and hearts to words that were not pleasing (such as “you shalt not…”).

Rather, He now tells us not to give the devil a chance to enter into our lives through sin. Someone I know has had to deal with an illness to her young son and has spent the better part of more than a year just refusing to believe and allow that cancer to take hold of her son. Today, he is in remission and is finally able to go out and interact with other children. She can also finally go out and spend time with her friends without having to worry too much. In refusing to allow the negativity and all its consequent feelings to take root, she conquered the illness through faith and prayer.

I recently attended the Hillsong Conference in Sydney and one of the enduring phrases was preached by Pastor Louie Giglio at his amazing session. He said, ‘Don’t give the enemy a seat at your table’ — 9 words he says changed his life during a period of turbulence and desolation. And he demonstrated it so vividly by managing to squeeze in between a married couple in the audience just by asking, “Can you just give me a bit of room here”; and then he got to work.

Brothers and sisters, let us NOT allow the enemy in through the cracks and fissures of our lives that are present in the workplace, in family, in ministry, in our emotions, in our dealings with others. Rather, let us allow God to smooth over these areas by praying constantly and going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly so that we can become watertight in our faith. This will enable God to work His miracles in our lives and empower us to conquer anything that life throws at us, even serious illnesses such as leukaemia.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep us faithful and focussed on the road ahead through our daily prayers and help us to see your guiding hand in all that we do.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always being there for us in our times of desolation.

25 July, Thursday – Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Jul 25 – Feast of St. James, Apostle

St. James (died 44) was the first Apostle to be martyred. He preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. His work in Spain, and the housing of his relics there, led to his patronage of the country and all things Spanish.

Like all men of renown, many stories grew up around St. James. In one, he brought back to life a boy who had been unjustly hanged, and had been dead for five weeks. The boy’s father was notified of the miracle while he sat at supper. The father pronounced the story nonsense, and said his son was no more alive than the roasted fowl on the table; the cooked bird promptly sat up, sprouted feathers, and flew away.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Corinthians 4:7-15

We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

But as we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.

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Matthew 20:20-28

The mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

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Since we have that same spirit of[ faith, we also believe and therefore speak.
Standing up for others is hardly an easy thing to do. The fear of being judged, the uneasiness of having the spotlight then shone on you, and the discomfort of not belonging to the pack, make it much easier for us to let the victim suffer alone.

We’ve all experienced something like this before. A colleague takes medical leave and his timing could not be worse. He may have a big meeting to steer that day, or had been regularly unwell in the recent past. Murmurings then surface about his frailty, or of him taking the easy way out from having to deal with challenges at work. Or, someone is being unfairly treated because of a toxic blend of double standards in a seniority-based workplace.

I struggle with being the voice of Christ in situations like this. No one should be oppressed, but speaking up could put you on the other side. However, not speaking up and preserving the ‘peace’ puts us on the other side of the table from God. Such is the additional burden of the Catholic life, which is characterized by faith-driven actions.

Should you feel trepidation about being God’s mouthpiece, start this transformative process slowly. Do not expect great changes overnight as the general principle of the 10,000 hours rule applies here. Make your thoughts on such unfair treatment known first in private, or have a one-on-one conversation with the offender to state how you feel. Eventually, it will become natural for you to do so in more communal settings. You will grow in strength and confidence, and earn the gratitude of the weak ones who had no one to fight for them before.

Just as St. James was one of the three chosen apostles to bear witness to Jesus’ Transfiguration, we too are chosen as God’s agents in difficult situations. What we choose to do thereafter then defines who we really are.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: Help us, dear Lord, to be courageous for ourselves and for others in the face of all adversity.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for the gift of our conscience, a compass that always leads to you in our troubled world.

24 July, Wednesday – Listening and Perseverance

Jul 24 – Memorial for St. Charbel Makhluf, Priest

St. Charbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, St. Charbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.

http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/082002.shtml

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Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15

From Elim they set out, and the whole community of the sons of Israel reached the wilderness of Sin – between Elim and Sinai – on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt. And the whole community of the sons of Israel began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and said to them, ‘Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people are to go out and gather the day’s portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, this will be twice as much as the daily gathering.’

Moses said to Aaron, ‘To the whole community of the sons of Israel say this, “Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your complaints.”’ As Aaron was speaking to the whole community of the sons of Israel, they turned towards the wilderness, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the form of a cloud. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel. Say this to them, “Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.”’ And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp; in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was. ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’

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Matthew 13:1-9

Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

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“But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit”.

The seeds represent the message we get from God, through prayer, reading the Word of God and listening to what the priest is preaching during homilies. We listen to God’s words, but do we put into practice what we have learnt?

For instance, personally, I know that I am supposed to stay close to God and pray to Him at various times throughout the day, even when I am tired. For Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are tired, and I will give you rest.” I personally felt spiritually uplifted when I went to an adoration room for a short break during a school day. I no longer felt lethargic and was full of energy for the rest of the day. I promised God that I will definitely come back to church for Mass and adoration more often after that encounter with Him.
However, schoolwork soon caught up with me again once more, and I had forgotten to pray to God when I was tired. Instead, I turned to my entertainment devices, which made me even more exhausted. Sometimes, I feel like the seeds that were sown on rocky ground or thorns, as I forgot what God has told me when I get distracted and overwhelmed by other things in life.

Praying for the gift of understanding and perseverance can definitely help us to apply in our daily life what God has taught us. We need to be able to comprehend what He is telling us before we can practise it in life. Even more importantly, we need to remain steadfast in applying His message in life. Sometimes, we think we can handle challenges on our own, but we might fail soon thereafter. At other times, we simply forget all about His message and do exactly on the contrary to what He has told us to do.
Despite our shortcomings in life, God will never give up on us. He will gently remind us of His message to us. We only need to make amends if necessary, like going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we have sinned, and we will be in union with Him again. Hopefully, when the next wave of challenge or trial hits us, we will know what to do and obey what He has told us to do.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please give us the gift to listen to Your Word, understand the message in Your Word, and have the perseverance to apply what we have understood in our daily lives. Give us the strength to continue to listen to You and practice Your Word even if we face with trials and tribulations in our life. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us Your Word, and for always being patient in the fervent hope that we will listen to You and obey Your Word in our life. Amen.

23 July, Tuesday – What is God’s will for us?

Jul 23 – Memorial for St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious

Coming from a noble yet religious background, St. Bridget (1302-1373) was friend and counsellor to many priests and theologians of her day. As chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur, she counselled and guided the Queen and King Magnus II. She was harassed by others at the court for pursuing a religious life.

She eventually renounced her title of princess and became the foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines), chastening and counselling kings and Popes Clement VI, Urban VI, and Gregory XI. St. Bridget encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion, and of Jesus Crucified.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Exodus 14:21-15:1

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove back the sea with a strong easterly wind all night, and he made dry land of the sea. The waters parted and the sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea, walls of water to right and to left of them. The Egyptians gave chase: after them they went, right into the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

In the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and of cloud, and threw the army into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could scarcely make headway. ‘Let us flee from the Israelites,’ the Egyptians cried. ‘The Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians!’

‘Stretch out your hand over the sea,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians and their chariots and their horsemen.’

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them.

That day, the Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. Israel witnessed the great act that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord; they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.

It was then that Moses and the sons sang this song in honour of the Lord:

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Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus was speaking to the crowds when his mother and his brothers appeared; they were standing outside and were anxious to have a word with him. But to the man who told him this Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.’

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Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother

What is God’s will for us? In other words, what does He want us to do for Him in our life?

As a child, I used to think that doing God’s will was either through marriage or joining a religious order. And becoming a nun was certainly, as I misbelieved, a more direct evidence that I am doing God’s will in life. So, every day, I would pray very earnestly to be a nun, that He would call me to be one.

Nowadays, I have realized that doing God’s will is not only having two black-and-white options (as I naively thought). Doing God’s will is simply doing what He wants us to do for Him in life, and making Him proud of us as His sons and daughters.

Throughout my undergraduate studies, I believe that doing His will is spending time with Him, and bringing Him glory through our actions, words and thoughts in our everyday conversations, with people and activities that we do. We need to spend our valuable time with Him because it is only through calming down the noise from our life in our hearts that we listen to His gentle and soft voice, leading us to where He wants us to go. To where he knows is in our best interests, and where we can fully serve Him and bring Him glory.

By loving our neighbours, even those whom we hate and treat as enemies, we are also one step closer to fulfilling His will. We should certainly forgive one another as He has loved us, for by loving us, He hopes that we can imitate Him and do the same to other people in our life. Forgiving is difficult, but it will set us all free once we forgive; after all, we are all sons and daughters of God, who certainly wants to see us living harmoniously.

Small acts of compassion are also ways for us to serve Him and do His will. By opening the door for the physically disabled, giving up a seat for a person in need, donating money to the poor, and volunteering to spend our time with the disadvantaged in society, these small little acts of kindness and charity will certainly put a big smile on God’s face, only if we do it out of love for others, and not for attention and love for ourselves.

In short, God’s will is essentially simple to incorporate into our lives. All we need to do is to spend time with Him and put in effort to bring Him glory and praise in our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear God, please help us to do Your will every day in our lives. Help us to live in communion with you in prayers, thoughts, words and actions. Help us to bring You glory in the lives of the people around us. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear God, thank you for being with us by our side, patiently and tirelessly guiding us to do Your will in life. Thank you for being Your sons and daughters to do Your will.